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Lineage of Rain

In this spellbinding debut, Los Angeles–born poet Janel Pineda sings of communal love and the diaspora and dreams for a liberated future. Lineage of Rain traces histories of Salvadoran migration and the US-sponsored civil war to reimagine trauma as a site for transformation and healing. With a scholar’s caliber, Pineda archives family memory, crafting a collection that centers intergenerational narratives through poems filled with a yearning to crystallize a new world—one unmarked by patriarchal violence. At their heart, many of these poems are an homage to women: love letters to mothers, sisters, and daughters.

Lineage of Rain moves from los campos de El Salvador to the firework-laden streets of South Gate to the riverbanks of England. Pineda’s masterful stroke weaves together these seemingly disparate worlds, illustrating the complicated reality of living as a first-generation student. As the speaker navigates elitism and the violence of the English language, she lays bare their ties to power. And yet, these poems rebel through revel, asking: how do we hold each other tenderly in a world replete with pain and many forms of violence? With dreams made possible through collective struggle, Pineda returns us to the seeds from which we bloom: family, history, and community. All the while, this collection never fails to capture often overlooked moments of joy—the mundane yet monumental—showing the reader that the world we dream is already ours. Through Lineage of Rain, Pineda emerges as a seminal contributor to the canon of Central American diasporic writing.

Reviews
  • “In Lineage of Rain, Janel Pineda makes diasporic Salvadorans whole. Her poems—at once gentle and powerful—recognize our pain, hold it caringly, and then release it, ephemerally answering our stubborn questions about who we are and why we’ve suffered. Pineda clothes diasporic sorrows in rhythmic tempos and warm images that remind us that we were always whole, bringing into existence joyful possibilities in the past, present, and future.”
    —Leisy Abrego, author of Sacrificing Families: Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love Across Borders

    “Janel Pineda’s chapbook is a heartfelt manifesto of the tender and resilient Salvadoran spirit that breaks from the ashes of war and migration to burst into laughter. Pineda’s seamless weaving of stories proves she is a true seamstress of words, a necessary poet for our time. Her poems glow in the dark and we follow their light. Through sharp poetic forms that crumble on the page or shrink into the margins, you are taken on the haunting journey of the rich history and livelihood of being a Salvadoran woman. Lineage of Rain is a clever force—like the Siguanaba, it wraps and twists around our body; this collection booms with hope like a mother’s eyes or the wings of a torogoz. Most importantly, Lineage of Rain does what it wants: it breaks apart, chews, and spits out the many systems that failingly seek to crush us. Pineda teleports us to Paradise, the new world that is in the flux of this moment, piercing a light through the storm of war.”
    —féi hernandez, author of HOOD CRIATURA

    “Janel Pineda’s brilliant chapbook is the grown-up version of the child who sat in the corner at family gatherings, listening, watching, and taking notes. And oh, has that child grown up to master language like I haven’t read in a while. Pineda’s poems are both surprising and dangerous like a winding road next to a barranco. This chapbook is just the beginning of a long career, where family is valued and women are always, siempre, at the center of every word. Tread carefully because these words tienen filo y te van hacer chillar.”
    —Javier Zamora, author of Unaccompanied

    “Let the record show that Janel Pineda’s poems trace not just a geographic migration but also a migration towards love. In Lineage of Rain, Pineda transforms images to show us how water can drown in some instances and heal in others. Pineda sees both pain and celebration, and writes both with equal tenderness. Pineda has crafted a book that wounds and heals, in a multiplicity of forms that honor the multiplicity of our lives. These are poems to treasure.”
    —José Olivarez, Author of Citizen Illegal